As part of The Intersection Dialogues, urbanist and artist Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani holds a series of community portraiture and storytelling sessions, asking Jamaica residents: “Where would you take me on a guided tour?” These events, and the resulting story portraits taking up residence at Jameco Exchange, provide an opportunity for people to share neighborhood places that are important to them; places remembered, imagined, or far away.
Each event features an installation of Gabrielle’s photographs and residents’ “guided tours” from neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York, and London, England—neighborhoods that are now almost unrecognizable due to large-scale development and gentrification.
These stories, from very different places, act as catalysts for conversations about shared and different dynamics of place, displacement, and sustainability in Queens. The project is connected to Intersection | Prospect Heights, which was installed in Brooklyn in 2015 as a series of neighborhood guidebooks, and which continues with a series of tours and conversations in June. With conversations across place, we may find common ground for working toward more just neighborhood futures and valuing of our most everyday places.
The Intersection Dialogues are held in conjunction with Once Upon a Place, a five-part program that presents an arts-based oral history model expanding upon panel and town hall formats. To remove barriers that would otherwise prevent many community members from engaging in modes of humanities-based research, three forms of public engagement are arranged at the intersection of diverse audiences and everyday places. The programming and exhibition work in tandem to create conversations around themes of movement, migration, and communication. Local participants employ humanities and arts methodologies to interpret, analyze and represent neighborhood issues important to them, within the context of a larger dialogue about a moment of social change sweeping across Jamaica and New York City. Once Upon a Place is supported by the New York Council for the Humanities.
The series culminates with Panel II on Saturday, July 9, in which artists Sol Aramendi, Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani and Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful present research gathered and projects created in collaboration with community participants.